Experience: a meteorite crashed on to my bed (Image Credit: SNN)
A black rock, the size of a fist, was lying right where my head had been
I live in a small town called Golden, in a valley bottom between two mountain ranges in Canada. I’m retired, and apart from my dog, Toby, I live alone. I lead a pretty quiet life, especially since the pandemic.
On Sunday 3 October last year, I went to bed as usual at about 9.30pm. The next thing I remember is waking up at 11.30 to the sound of Toby barking like mad. It was his protective bark: “Something’s out there!” So I quickly got up. Almost immediately there was an explosion, and everything was covered in plasterboard and debris.
I was terrified. There was a massive hole in the ceiling above my bed. At first I thought a tree had fallen on the house, but I looked out of the window and there was no tree there. I was so agitated that I was kind of vibrating. I decided to call the police.Advertisement
I told the dispatcher that something had come through my ceiling and I had no idea what. Then I went back into the bedroom and flipped back the pillow. A lump of rock was there.
The policeman arrived quickly – he had also heard an explosion. Some workers had been blasting through the mountains for the Trans-Canada highway and the policeman thought maybe they’d got carried away with their explosives that night, and I’d caught a bit of debris. He called up the team. They said they hadn’t been working with explosives that night, but had seen a big light in the sky and heard a boom.
He hung up and said, “I think you’ve got a meteorite.” We looked at the piece of dark black rock, a little bigger than a fist, nestled between the two pillows. It had crashed straight through my roof, into my bedroom, right next to where my head had been. When the policeman left, I began to realise how lucky I was. I kept thinking, did this really happen? I made a tea and tried to calm down. At about 5am I managed to sleep.
I hadn’t thought about meteorites much until this happened. In the past when I’ve gone camping, I’ve loved sitting around the fire and looking at the stars. It was exciting to see a falling star streak across the sky. Those, I now know, are very high up. Mine exploded about 18km above Earth, which is very close. I’ve read that you have a one in a trillion chance of being hit by a meteorite.https://www.theguardian.com/email/form/plaintone/inside-saturdaySign up to our Inside Saturday newsletter for an exclusive behind-the-scenes look at the making of the magazine’s biggest features, as well as a curated list of our weekly highlights
After my story was in the local newspaper, things got a bit crazy. I’ve had all sorts of messages, friend requests on Facebook and people wanting interviews. One man came to my door, twice, trying to get a bargain on the meteorite – apparently meteorites such as mine are very valuable, because it’s intact and uncontaminated by human touch. Most times, meteorites are found on Earth only after they’ve been weathered for years, so it is harder for scientists to learn about the places they travelled through. But mine is fresh from outer space.
The day after the meteorite hit, I put it into a plastic bag so that it wouldn’t get contaminated. Then the University of Western Ontario came to collect it – after a few months of research they’re going to give it back. I’d like to take it to local schools and universities, tell the story to kids.
I got the hole in my roof fixed pretty quickly because heavy rain was on the way. My room is back to normal, with my bed in the same place as before. I’m lucky not to have had lasting effects from the experience, no post-traumatic stress. One time an explosion on TV really caught me, but apart from that I feel fine – thankful, even. The experience has made me want to be more generous to people while I’m still alive. Toby has also recovered, but then again he’s just such a good-natured dog.
All the fuss has made me feel protective towards the meteorite. People make money by chopping them into pieces to be sold as jewellery, but I feel this thing that is billions of years old found its way into my bed, and I want to protect it. If I do sell it, I want to find a good home where it will be put on display.